For Syria, Only More Questions

The failed vote in the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 4 over a resolution committing the UN to the Arab League’s Syria transition plan opens the door to an international free-for-all in which Syrian factions enlist foreign patrons, Russia mortgages itself to a terminally ill regime and Iran has an opening to forge closer ties with Russia and China.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at the UN Security Council on Jan. 31, 2012, about the resolution on Syria. US STATE DEPARTMENT

Worst of all, the delicate mosaic that is Syria threatens to shatter altogether, as Iraq did after the American invasion.

Spooked by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s ghost, the Russians made clear last week that they would oppose any UN endorsement of regime change, whether explicit or implied. Western and Arab willingness to remove the specifics of the Arab League plan — in particular the call to ease Syrian president Bashar al-Assad out of power — won over four other council members that had been skeptical of the initial draft.

But even as India, South Africa, Pakistan and Azerbaijan swung over to support the modified resolution, Russia and China dug in. They would happily support Arab League mediation between the Syrian government and opposition groups — but not the Arab League transition plan itself.

Click here to continue reading Laurenti’s essay, originally published in the Blog of the Century, published by the Century Foundation.

Jeffrey Laurenti is senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

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